If you ask me about dental insurance, I’ll talk forever about annual maximums, and coinsurance, and deductibles. But at the end of the day, only one thing really matters: how much does individual dental insurance cost? I get it. You want your money’s worth from your dental insurance. You want to know if the monthly cost of your dental insurance premium is worth the coverage you get.
Dental insurance costs vary depending onwhether you are purchasing for yourself or your entire family, your location, your dental insurance carrier and of course, your level of coverage. Although I can’t give you a magic answer about the exact cost of your dental insurance, I can help you understand the variables that impact the cost. Use this information as you shop for coverage and compare dental insurance costs.
There are two categories of cost to consider when it comes to dental insurance: monthly premium costs and the costs paid out-of-pocket at the time of dental services. First, let’s break down the monthly cost of dental insurance premiums.
Your dental insurance premium is the amount you pay your insurance carrier in exchange for coverage. This is a fixed monthly cost and remains the same for your entire dental insurance policy period, usually twelve months.
Although each person’s situation is different, dental insurance premium costs are usually a fraction of the premiums you pay for regular health insurance. As an example, during 2019, Delta Dental of Washington offered dental insurance on the private market starting at a monthly cost of around $26 for an individual and $122 for a family of four*.
*These premium amounts are actual examples for certain specific plans offered in 2019 only. Plan premiums and designs are subject to change. Premium rates are dependent upon your plan choice, location, number of people insured, their age and relationship to you. See your plan Limitations and Exclusions for specific plan information.
Aside from monthly premiums, the other category of dental insurance costs are those paid out-of-pocket when you visit the dentist. Here are the out-of-pocket costs to consider when shopping for dental insurance:
Your deductible is a set amount you pay for dental services out-of-pocket, before your benefits kick in.
An office visit copay is a set cost you pay up front each time you visit your dentist, regardless of the treatment you receive.
If your plan has a copay, your dental insurance coverage kicks in for the costs above and beyond this copay. When estimating the annual cost of your dental insurance, factor in office visit copays for at least two routine cleanings.
After you pay your deductible and/or your copay, your dental insurance coverage kicks in. But there are still out-of-pocket costs to consider. For most dental insurance plans, your insurance carrier covers a percentage of the cost for restorative and major dental services. You pay the remaining cost directly to your dentist. This percentage you pay is called coinsurance. Coinsurance costs vary depending on your dental insurance plan.
While you can’t plan for everything, you do have some data inputs you can think about when planning for your dental insurance costs. Consider your family dental history, how long it’s been since you’ve seen a dentist, and your overall health when shopping for dental insurance plans.
If your teeth are healthy and you don’t expect needing dental work this year, aside from routine exams and cleanings, then the lowest monthly premium option might be right for you. But think carefully about this, especially if you or someone on your plan needs significant dental work or is prone to cavities. In this situation, paying a higher cost for monthly dental insurance premiums might actually save you money by lowering your other out-of-pocket costs.